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France Fines Google

France Fines Google €250 Million for Breaching EU Intellectual Property Rules

Paris, March 20, 2024, The Europe Today: France’s regulatory body announced on Wednesday that it has imposed a fine of €250 million ($271.7 million) on Alphabet’s Google for violations of European Union intellectual property regulations in its dealings with media publishers.

The French Competition Authority revealed that Google had trained its AI-powered Bard chatbot, now known as Gemini, using content from publishers and news agencies without their prior notification. This action was found to be in breach of four out of the seven commitments Google had agreed upon in 2022 as part of a settlement with publishers, aimed at ensuring fair negotiations with news organizations.

The regulator further stated that Google’s failure to provide publishers with a mechanism to object to the use of their content hindered their ability to negotiate fair remuneration.

Google responded by calling the fine disproportionate, emphasizing the challenges of operating in an unpredictable environment. Despite its disagreement with the penalty, Google expressed readiness to move forward, accepting the settlement.

This development comes amid a broader effort by publishers and newsrooms to assert control over the automatic collection of their content by AI services without explicit consent.

While this dispute appeared to be resolved in 2022 when Google dropped its appeal against an initial fine, France is not the only EU member state challenging Google over news content. Spain’s competition watchdog initiated an investigation last year into alleged anti-competitive practices affecting news agencies and press publications. Similarly, Germany’s antitrust regulator halted an investigation into Google’s News Showcase service in 2022 after the tech giant made adjustments to address competition concerns.

In a related matter, The New York Times took legal action in 2023 against Google’s rivals Microsoft and OpenAI, accusing them of using millions of its articles without permission to train chatbots.